Victim making progress, suspect out of jail
The victim of a shooting at Howard Industries is making what has been described as a miraculous recovery, family members reported.
Dale Thornton, 58, still has a long road ahead of him, they said, as he is confined to a hospital bed at Forrest General.
Meanwhile, accused shooter Keith Hinton, 21, of Purvis is free after bailing out of jail. He was charged with attempted murder and made his initial appearance in Laurel Municipal Court on Sunday. Judge Kyle Robertson set Hinton’s bond at $750,000, which the suspect posted about an hour later and was released from the Jones County Adult Detention Center. Pugh Bonding Co. handled his bail, which means he had to come up with $75,000 to get released to await trial in Jones County Circuit Court.
The purpose of bond is not punishment, judges often point out, but to assure the suspect comes to court.
Thornton was shot three times on Friday morning — in the neck, chest and jaw. The bullet that entered his neck struck his spinal cord, family members reported. As of Monday, he was “in good spirits” and able to move his arms, which was an encouraging sign, they said, but he was unable to feel from his chest down. After he woke up on Sunday, they posted, “HE IS AWAKE!!! We have never been so happy to see those eyes before in our lives,” noting that he was also responsive.
Family members described Thornton as “a wonderful person all around.” The family asked for continued prayers and support for Thornton’s extended recovery, and expressed gratitude for the prayers and the quick actions of his co-workers.
“Thanks to his friends at work who acted quickly and saved his life. We are forever grateful,” family members posted on Facebook, adding that those friends waited with him until the EMServ Ambulance arrived on scene.
Thornton was transported to South Central Regional Medical Center initially then airlifted to Forrest General.
On Friday, Hinton arrived at Howard Industries and shot Thornton, investigators with the Laurel Police Department said. After the shooting, Hinton went into the plant and avoided capture by evacuating the premises with everyone else. A warrant was issued for his arrest, and he was arrested two hours later in Stone County.
No motive or other details have been released. Hinton’s initial appearance in court happened about two hours earlier than scheduled. Earlier reports from several sources that Thornton had fired Hinton were incorrect, family members said. Thornton was a plumber for Howard Industries and wasn’t in a supervisory position.
An account to benefit Thornton has been set up at Community Bank.
“Please do not stop praying,” family members posted on Monday. “Miracles are happening and we are excited for each small victory. God is GREAT! To him be the glory in each part of this.”
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